The BKA’s child and vulnerable adult protection policy
The following chapters set out the Child Protection Policy that should always be followed by all Bournemouth Karate Academy (BKA) instructors, officers and volunteers involved in the activities and events we organise for our members.
BKA Child Protection Officers
Promoting good practice
Good practice guidelines
Use of photographic/filming equipment
Recruitment and training of staff and volunteers
Responding to allegations or suspicions
Reporting concerns about poor practice or suspected abuse
Enquiries and further action
Reporting concerns outside the immediate sporting environment (e.g. a parent or carer)
Providing information to police or social services
The BKA has adopted the following child protection policy advocated by the NSPCC in recognition of our responsibility to make provisions for children, young people and vulnerable adults (henceforth referred to as children for the sake of brevity). We must ensure that:
the welfare of the child is paramount;
all children, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin religious beliefs and/or sexual identity have the right to protection from abuse;
all suspicions and allegations of abuse and poor practice will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately; and
all instructors/officers/volunteers working in within the BKA have a responsibility to report concerns to the appropriate officer.
The BKA has a duty of care to safeguard all children involved in the BKA from harm. All children have a right to protection, and the needs of disabled children and others who may be particularly vulnerable must be taken into account. The BKA will ensure the safety and protection of all children involved in the BKA through adherence to the child protection guidelines adopted here.
A child is defined as a person under the age of 18 (The Children Act 1989).
A vulnerable adult is defined as a person aged eighteen or over, who has either a dependency upon others in the performance of, or a requirement for assistance in the performance of basic functions; a severe impairment in the ability to communicate with others; or has a reduced ability to protect themselves from assault, abuse or neglect. This can be as a result of a learning or physical disability (not normally to include dyslexia); a physical or mental illness chronic or otherwise (including an addiction to alcohol or drugs); or a reduction in physical or mental capacity
The aim of the BKA Child Protection Policy is to promote good practice:
providing children and young people with appropriate safety and protection whilst in the care of The BKA
allow all instructors/officers/volunteers to make informed and confident responses to specific child protection issues.
Child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, can arouse strong emotions in those facing such a situation. It is important to understand these feelings and not allow them to interfere with your judgement about the appropriate action to take.
Abuse can occur within many situations including the home, school and the sporting environment. Some individuals will actively seek employment or voluntary work with young people in order to harm them. A coach, instructor, teacher, official or volunteer will have regular contact with young people and be an important link in identifying cases where they need protection. All suspicious cases of poor practice should be reported following the guidelines in this document.
When a child engages in BKA activities having been subjected to child abuse outside the sporting environment, karate can play a crucial role in improving the child’s self-esteem. In such instances the club activity organiser should consider working with the appropriate agencies to ensure the child receives the required support.
All personnel should be encouraged to demonstrate exemplary behaviour in order to promote childrens welfare and reduce the likelihood of allegations being made. The following are common sense examples of how to create a positive culture and climate.
Good practice means:
Always working in an open environment (e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication with no secrets).
Treating all young people/disabled adults equally, and with respect and dignity.
Always putting the welfare of each young person first, before winning or achieving goals.
Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with players (e.g. it is not appropriate for staff or volunteers to have an intimate relationship with a child or to share a room with them).
Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust which empowers children to share in the decision-making process.
Making sport fun, enjoyable and promoting fair play.
Ensuring that if any form of manual/physical support is required, it should be provided openly and according to guidelines provided by the Coach Education Programme. Care is needed, as it is difficult to maintain hand positions when the child is constantly moving. Young people and their parents should always be consulted and their agreement gained.
Keeping up to date with technical skills, qualifications and insurance in sport.
Involving parents/carers wherever possible. For example, encouraging them to take responsibility for their children in the changing rooms. If groups have to be supervised in the changing rooms, always ensure parents, instructors, officers or volunteers work in pairs.
Ensuring that if mixed teams are taken away, they should always be accompanied by a male and female instructor/officer/volunteer. However, remember that same gender abuse can also occur.
Ensuring that at tournaments or residential events, adults should not enter children’s rooms or invite children into their rooms.
Being an excellent role model - this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of young people.
Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.
Recognising the developmental needs and capacity of young people and disabled adults - avoiding excessive training or competition and not pushing them against their will.
Securing parental consent in writing to act in loco parentis, if the need arises to administer emergency first aid and/or other medical treatment.
Keeping a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given.
Requesting written parental consent if club officials are required to transport young people in their cars.
Practices to be avoided
The following should be avoided except in emergencies. If cases arise where these situations are unavoidable it should be with the full knowledge and consent of someone in charge in the club or the child’s parents. For example, a child sustains an injury and needs to go to hospital, or a parent fails to arrive to pick a child up at the end of a session:
avoid spending time alone with children away from others.
avoid taking or dropping off a child to an event or activity.
Practices never to be sanctioned
You should never:
engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay;
share a room with a child;
allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching;
allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged;
make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun;
reduce a child to tears as a form of control;
fail to act upon and record any allegations made by a child;
do things of a personal nature for children or disabled adults, that they can do for themselves; and
invite or allow children to stay with you at your home unsupervised.
N.B. It may sometimes be necessary for instructors, officers or volunteers to do things of a personal nature for children, particularly if they are young or are disabled. These tasks should only be carried out with the full understanding and consent of parents and the players involved. There is a need to be responsive to a person’s reactions. If a person is fully dependent on you, talk with him/her about what you are doing and give choices where possible. This is particularly so if you are involved in any dressing or undressing of outer clothing, or where there is physical contact, lifting or assisting a child to carry out particular activities. Avoid taking on the responsibility for tasks for which you are not appropriately trained.
Incidents that must be reported/recorded
If any of the following occur you should report this immediately to the appropriate officer and record the incident. You should also ensure the parents of the child are informed:
if you accidentally hurt a student;
if he/she seems distressed in any manner;
if a player appears to be sexually aroused by your actions; and/or
if a player misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done.
Use of photographic/filming equipment at sporting events
There is evidence that some people have used sporting events as an opportunity to take inappropriate photographs or film footage of children in vulnerable positions. All clubs should be vigilant and any concerns should to be reported to the Club Child Protection Officers.
Videoing as a coaching aid: there is no intention to prevent club instructors using video equipment as a legitimate coaching aid. However, performers and their parents/carers should be made aware that this is part of the coaching programme and their consent obtained, and such films should be stored safely.
The BKA recognises that anyone may have the potential to abuse children in some way and that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children.
The BKA depends almost exclusively on volunteer workers, and we recognise many aspects of child protection policies act as a potential barrier to such people coming forward to volunteer. A common sense approach to strike a balance between the need to protect children and unnecessary bureaucracy has been achieved by the policies introduced by the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
The safeguarding regulations introduced in October 2009 state that:
a person who is barred from working with children or vulnerable adults will be breaking the law if they work or volunteer, or try to work or volunteer with those groups;
an organisation which knowingly employs someone who is barred to work with those groups will also be breaking the law; and
if your organisation works with children or vulnerable adults and you dismiss an instructor, officer or volunteer because they have harmed a child or vulnerable adult, or you would have done so if they had not left, you must tell the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
BKA instructors, officers and volunteers should be mindful of their obligation to comply with these regulations that came into force in 2012. We therefore require:
All instructors, officers and volunteers are registered on the BKA online membership database. The completion of the online registration form requests self disclosure of previous criminal records that may be relevant to decisions of their suitability to work with children; and
They must have a valid CRB check dated within the last three years.
The above checks will not be considered necessary for volunteers who assist on BKA/EGKA competition and grading days, where the nature of their contact with children is both short in duration, always under supervision and is made in full public view with many parents in attendance.
In addition, the safeguarding process includes ongoing training of all instructors, officers and volunteers to:
Analyse their own practice against established good practice, and to ensure their practice is not likely to result in allegations being made.
Recognise their responsibilities and report any concerns about suspected poor practice or possible abuse.
Respond to concerns expressed by a child or young person.
It is not the responsibility of anyone working in The BKA, in a paid or unpaid capacity to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However there is a responsibility to act on any concerns by reporting these to the appropriate officer or the appropriate authorities.
The BKA assures all instructors, officers and volunteers that it will fully support and protect anyone, who in good faith reports his or her concern that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child.
Where there is a complaint against an instructor, officer or volunteer there may be three types of investigation:
a criminal investigation;
a child protection investigation, and or
a disciplinary or misconduct investigation.
The results of the police and child protection investigation may well influence and inform the disciplinary investigation, but all available information will be used to reach a decision.
Reporting concerns about poor practice in BKA affliliated dojos
If an allegation is made about poor practice in a particular BKA affiliated dojo, the matter will be first investigated by all designated Child Protection Officer, who may co-opt other instructors to investigate the matter further. A written report will be prepared, including any conclusions and intended actions that will be taken to address any shortcomings found. If poor practice is found, the offending dojo will be given a reasonable amount of time, not exceeding two months, before a second review is carried out. If they fail to measure up to what the BKA expects as a minimum standard on their second review, their membership of the BKA will be immediately withdrawn and consideration given to making a report to the Independent Safeguarding Authority. A copy of the report will be made available to the person who made the allegation.
If the allegation is about poor practice by any BKA officer, including Child Protection Officers, the BKA management will immediately convene a panel of at least five independent senior instructors to consider the matter and prepare a written report setting out the results of their investigation and any recommendations they feel the BKA should adopt. At the conclusion of the investigation the panel will recommend whether the office should continue to hold office or be asked to resign, and whether any report should be made to the Independent Safeguarding Authority. A copy of the report will be made available to the person who made the allegation.
Reporting concerns about suspected abuse
Any suspicion that a child has been abused by either an instructor, officer or a volunteer should be reported immediately to the BKA Child Protection Officers, who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk.
The Child Protection Officers will be obliged to refer all such allegations to Social Services, who may involve the police.
The parents or carers of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department.
if you are concerned about a child and unable to contact the BKA Child Protection Officers, please call the NSPCC 24-hour Helpline on 0808 800 5000.
Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only. This includes the following people:
the Club Child Protection Officer;
the parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused;
the person making the allegation;
the BKA Child Protection Officers;
Be careful who you talk to … it may be a reporter
Any instructors, BKA officers, and volunteers should be mindful that if a child abuse allegation is made and it falls into the public domain, they may well be contacted by members of the press. In such circumstances, the only correct action is to say nothing as anything you may say may either be incorrect or it may hamper the investigations carried out by the proper authorities.
The BKA Child Protection Officers will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending further police and social services inquiries.
Irrespective of the findings of the social services or police inquiries the BKA management will assess all individual cases to decide whether a member of staff or volunteer can be reinstated and how this can be sensitively handled.
This may be a difficult decision; particularly where there is insufficient evidence to uphold any action by the police. In such cases, the BKA management must reach a decision based upon the available information which could suggest that on a balance of probability it is more likely than not that the allegation is true. The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout.
Consideration should be given to what kind of support may be appropriate for the alleged perpetrator.
Allegations of previous abuse
Allegations of abuse may be made some time after the event (e.g. by an adult who was abused as a child or by a member of staff who is still currently working with children).
Where such an allegation is made, the club should follow the procedures as detailed above and report the matter to the social services or the police. This is because other children, either within or outside the BKA, may be at risk from this person. Anyone who has a previous criminal conviction for offences related to abuse is automatically excluded from working with children.
If bullying is suspected, the same procedure should be followed as set out in ‘Responding to suspicions or allegations’ above.
Action to help the victim and prevent bullying within the BKA:
The BKA advocate a highly structured and very disciplined method of teaching karate to children and adults, which normally lowers the risk that students would use their developing martial art skills to bully other people. We of course understand that this is not always the case, and responsible instructors are always looking out for signs that their students, child or adult, may be abusing the skills they are being taught.
For this reason, all instructors, officers, and voluntters should:
Take all signs of bullying very seriously.
Encourage all children to speak and share their concerns. It is believed that up to 12 children per year commit suicide as a result of bullying, so if anyone talks about or threatens suicide, seek professional help immediately. Help the victim to speak out and tell the person in charge or someone in authority. Create an open environment.
Investigate all allegations and take action to ensure the victim is safe. Speak with the victim and the bully(ies) separately.
Reassure the victim that you can be trusted and will help them, although you cannot promise to tell no one else.
Keep records of what is said (what happened, by whom, when).
Report any concerns to the BKA or EGKA Child Protection Officer(s) or the school (wherever the bullying is occurring).
Action towards the bully(ies):
Talk with the bully(ies), explain the situation, and try to get the bully(ies) to understand the consequences of their behaviour. Seek an apology to the victim(s).
Inform the bully(ies)’s parents.
Insist on the return of any ‘borrowed’ items and that the bully(ies) compensate the victim for any loss.
Impose sanctions or withdraw training as necessary.
Encourage and support the bully(ies) to change behaviour.
Hold meetings with the families to report on progress.
Inform the BKA Child Protection Officers of action taken.
Keep a written record of action taken.
Most ‘low level’ incidents will be dealt with at the time by local instructors and volunteers. However, if the bullying is severe (e.g. a serious assault), or if it persists despite efforts to deal with it, incidents should be referred to the EGKA Child Protection Officer(s) as in ‘responding to suspicions or allegations’ above.
Providing information to Police or Social Services
Information about suspected abuse must be accurate and a detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure/concern. It should include the following:
The child’s name, age and date of birth of the child.
The child’s home address and telephone number.
Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else.
The nature of the allegation. Include dates, times, any special factors and other relevant information.
Make a clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.
A description of any visible bruising or other injuries. Also any indirect signs, such as behavioural changes.
Details of witnesses to the incidents.
The child’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuries occurred.
Have the parents been contacted?
If so what has been said?
Has anyone else been consulted? If so record details.
If the child was not the person who reported the incident, has the child been spoken to? If so what was said?
Has anyone been alleged to be the abuser? Record details.
Where possible referral to the police or social services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded.
A few words of support
We are all aware that once a report is made of alleged child abuse, it will set in motion a chain of events that will almost certainly have a very damaging impact on the alleged perpetrator and their family, even if they are completely innocent. Often the alleged perpetrator will be well known to you and you will find it hard to believe they are capable of such actions.
We therefore appreciate how difficult it would be for anyone to make the correct decision about whether to report their concerns to the BKA child protection officers, social services or indeed the police.
If there is clear evidence of abuse the correct decision is a little easier to make. It becomes more difficult when only the most tenuous of suspicions form the basis of your concerns.
Working your way through the above list of information needed to make a report may help sort out in your own mind the probable best course of action you should take. It may help you decide if you think in terms of the child’s best interests … they should remain paramount. If you still remain unsure about what to do, try talking through the situation with the NSPCC 24-hour Helpline on 0808 800 5000.